Today is the 14th anniversary of September 11th, a day many Americans say “never forget”. We will never forget September 11, 2001, but we need to take a bigger lesson away from that tragedy than we need to check for box cutters before people get on planes.
As I think back to this day 14 years ago, Kayla was too young to know what was going on and I thanked God for that. Shayna was approaching two years old. Before we knew exactly what was going on, my thoughts turned, of course, to “How do I protect them?” Is this all out war? What will happen?
We all watched in horror as a perfectly normal day turned tragic. Actually not a perfectly normal day. A beautiful, bright late summer day. The weather was picture perfect. Then, out of nowhere, thousands of people didn’t return home that night. People who left in the morning, may or may not have said goodbye, and assumed they’d be home that night. Well, there were no more hellos or goodbyes for many families and no one saw it coming. We were all fixated on it and 14 years later we still are. The thing we don’t realize is every day is September 11th for someone. Every day, people die, many unexpectedly and tragically. September 11th was a day of deliberate mass murder that got our attention, but it doesn’t take airplanes hitting office towers to make today September 11th for someone. I know some think it morbid to think about death every day, but it’s the only thing we know for certain in this life. As Dannion Brinkley says “If you’re breathing, you’re leaving.”
September 11th changed this country for at least a generation, maybe forever. Some don’t feel safe anymore (you never were safe- if it hadn’t been an airplane, it could have been a car accident or a heart attack that took your loved one). Some are angry- angry at Middle Easterners, angry at Muslims. If your reaction is anger at Muslims, mistrust of Middle Easterners, if your response is to want to go to war with Islam (or radical Islam), then Bin Laden set out just what he set out to accomplish that day. He wanted to use minimal force, 19 men, to start a war that would consume us for decades, change our way of life, drain our resources and cost us thousand of more lives.
For me, I look at September 11th and I mourn. I mourn for the families who lost loved ones- whose lives were cut short. I mourn for a planet that after all of these thousands of years we’ve been together still deliberately kills each other, not only as individuals, but en masse. I simply cannot understand that mindset and I’m amazed we haven’t evolved passed it yet. I am saddened that our response was exactly what Bin Laden wanted.
The thing is though, death is not the end. It’s the end of the physical life here, yes. Bin Laden destroyed families, caused loved ones to mourn, but he didn’t end anyone’s existence. We’re all going to go. Every single one of us. And we will meet up again. The only thing that differentiates us is the timing and the way we go. It’s not morbid to realize that. It’s what makes this life precious. We need to spend each day understanding that. We need to hug our loved ones every day when they go out the door. We need to show our appreciation to them every day. You never know, tomorrow could be your September 11th. Make the most of today.